SAN JOSE, Calif. — Simone Biles took the words of Maya Angelou — “but still I rise” — to heart on Sunday inside the SAP Center when she became the first man or woman to win an eighth U.S. all-around title at the 2023 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
“Every time I come out here I feel like I’m in a fever dream, and I feel like nothing’s real,” Biles said after just her second competition since the Tokyo Olympic Games. “…It just doesn’t feel real for some reason. I just seriously can’t believe I’m out here competing again. I just really can’t, so I’m proud of myself for that.”
Biles won the all-around with a 118.450 two-day total, surpassing the 59 mark both days, and took the beam and floor titles as well. She topped the field by 3.9 points.
Joining her on the podium was Shilese Jones (114.550), who picked up where she left off after 10 months away from competition due to injury, and Florida’s Leanne Wong (111.100).
Jones also won bars (29.900), and Joscelyn Roberson rounded out the event winners with the vault title.
After doing both the Yurchenko double pike and Cheng on vault Day 1, Biles opted to just do the Cheng Day 2.
“On the one that she stuck pretty much two nights ago, she stung her ankle a little bit,” Biles’ coach Laurent Landi said after the meet. “So there was no need to do [the Yurchenko double pike] just for show. We just decided to play it safe and try to heal the ankle [ahead of world team selection camp].”
As the top two all-arounders, Biles and Jones automatically qualified to the U.S. women’s world team selection camp, which is set for September 18-20 in Katy, Texas.
Biles rotated in Olympic order, starting with the aforementioned Cheng on vault (14.850). She moved to bars where she hit her set with multiple impressive connections and no trouble on her toe 1/1 to full-twisting double back. On beam, she hit the opening connection she missed Day 1 – switch leap to switch half to back pike – on her way to a 14.850. On floor, Biles stuck both her front full to double-twisting double back and double layout dismount to go 15.400 – the highest floor score of her return so far and the highest individual score of the day.
Jones started on beam, where she hit a set including her trademark standing Arabian and two-footed layout series for a 14.300. On floor, her balletic set to “Golden Hour” had the crowd so enthralled you could probably hear a pen drop. She balanced that gracefulness out with powerful tumbling, including an opening tucked double twisting double back, that earned her a 14.100. On vault, she led the field of numerous double-twisting Yurchenkos with a powerful, flared out version that garnered a 14.400. Jones ended the day on bars, which she won by more than a point. It was the only routine to earn a 15.000 on Day 2 and was a preview of what’s to come for the 2022 world uneven bars silver medalist: stalder 1/1 to Chow to straddled Tkatchev, toe 1/1 to stalder piked Tkatchev to Pak salto, Van Leeuwen, double front with a small hop.
Wong was graceful and confident on beam, dismounting with a 2.5 twist to earn a 13.700. She had a show-stopping floor set that earned a 14.000 and included a basically stuck tucked double-double, stuck double layout, double L-turn to full turn, and a stuck double pike. The Florida star did two vaults, with the first (another double-twisting Yurchenko) earning a 14.050. Wong ended her day with a 14.000 on bars for a floaty routine consisting of a clear hip 1/2 to straddled Tkatchev, toe 1/1 to Bhardwaj, Maloney to Pak salto, Van Leeuwen, and double layout with a small hop.
Skye Blakely finished fourth with a 110.750, adding back in floor to her repertoire for the first time since 2022 worlds. She finished second on both bars and beam and did two vaults, making her a prime candidate for another world team.
Reigning Olympic all-around champion Suni Lee was third on beam after a fall Day 1. She redeemed herself with a 14.200 on Day 2. After competing just vault and beam the past two meets, the plan is to add bars and floor ahead of selection camp. Lee’s training continues to be hindered by an ongoing kidney-related health issue, but her bars training podium looked promising.
Reigning Olympic floor champion Jade Carey finish 15th all-around after struggling on beam, specifically, where she fell both days. She looked fatigued on vault Day 1 but was much improved Day 2, earning a 14.550 for her Cheng.
For a full play-by-play of both days of competition, check out our live blog.
2023 U.S. Senior Women’s National Team at championships
- Simone Biles
- Shilese Jones
- Leanne Wong
- Skye Blakely
- Jordan Chiles
- Katelyn Jong
- Joscelyn Roberson
- Tiana Sumanasekera
- Kayla DiCello
- Amelia Disidore
More athletes are expected to be added “based upon the needs of the national team.”